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Avoiding Injuries During Exercise

Exercise Choice 4: Exercise Machines

We now know that aerobic exercise must be combined with a program of strength-training exercise for maximum cardiac health (and better weight loss, too!) One burns calories, the other increases lean muscle tissue. That's where exercise machines come in. The strange apparatus that stands in your gym or glares out from the latest TV infomercial helps build resistance and turn fat tissue into muscle tissue.


Never attempt a strength-training exercise without warming up first. Stretching and pulling muscles that have not loosened up is an invitation for sprains, tendonitis, and pulled ligaments.

The best way to find the right exercise machine for you is to try as many as you can. Go to an exercise equipment store in the mall and try out their machines. Join a local health club and get some professional advice from a trainer. The best strength-training exercise regime incorporates a variety of machines to use different muscle groups. Weights should be easy to add or remove so that you can make sure you're working with the amount that's right for you. Free hand weights are also used for strengthening muscles. Several good videos are available that teach proper technique and safety. A good one to try is Kathy Smith's Workout with Weights. Other exercise machines that work up a sweat include stationary bikes, stair climbers, skiing machines, and treadmills. These machines can be used for an aerobic workout, but they shouldn't be confused with the weight-bearing machines that strengthen and tone.

Exercise Choice 5: Bicycling

It's all a matter of choice. Some people like the interior of a gym and a LifeCycle to pedal. Others like the great outdoors—the hills and valleys and the sound of the birds. Either way, indoors or out, you can get a good aerobic workout. But there are some safety precautions you should take and some first aid steps you'll need to know in an emergency.


Nearly 500,000 people suffer head injuries every year. The most common accident? Not wearing a helmet when cycling!

One injury that's common among bicyclists is a broken collarbone (because of the position of the upper torso). Other injuries are dangers that arise if you fall off. See Why Head Injuries Are So Dangerous for information on treating head injuries. Minor discomforts such as hemorrhoids can occur when you sit for a long time.

Indoor cycling is not dangerous, as long as you don't push too hard. Outdoor cycling, however, requires more safety precautions:

  • Always wear a helmet.
  • Choose your outdoor bike carefully. Mountain bikes are more stable than road bicycles, even for city roads. They are a good choice for novice riders.
  • Add reflective gear and lights if you are planning to ride at dusk or at night.
  • Ride your bike in less congested areas.
  • Bicycle with a friend.
  • Use a thick band to tie pants legs close to the body. This way they won't accidentally get caught in the spokes of the wheel.
  • Carry a plastic water bottle. You can purchase one that fits on the bicycle frame.
  • Test your tires and brakes before beginning your ride.

More on: First Aid

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to First Aid Basics © 1996 by Stephen J. Rosenberg, M.D. and Karla Dougherty. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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